School of Hard Knives

A sleek, acutely sharp knife is THE key to culinary fun times. Find your blade soulmate; not only will you not mind slicing things, you'll be looking for excuses to chop everything all the time.
  1. 1.
    What to look for:
    Chef's knife with a 7-10-inch blade of steel (will last for all of eternity) or ceramic (thinner, lighter, but less longevity). Comfortable handle.
  2. 2.
    Where to look:
    Kitchen stores or tool shops (Japanese = best) or maybe even an excellent hardware store. Bring an apple or an onion and a cutting board to audition how it feels in action (if store is cool w this. They should be.)
  3. 3.
    Obtain knowledge.
    Research is always a good idea. Try spanganga.org
  4. 4.
    How will you know which one?
    Kind of like shopping for shoes or a pet. You will likely just recognize your own true knife; it will feel like it was meant to be in your hand. It will purr your name; you will whisper back. Don't forget to pay for it on the way out.
  5. 5.
    Care and feeding.
    This is a 2-way relationship. Keep your knife sharpened (I get mine professionally done twice a year) and condition it by swiping in long whooshing strokes on a steel (rounded-edged metal rod w a handle) before use. Wash and completely dry by hand (avoid dishwasher) after each use. Knife will reward you by being excellent.
  6. 6.
    Be a ninja.
    Trust your knife/be assertive in this relationship. Hold it firmly in the place where the handle meets the blade, with thumb and a couple of fingers actually on the steel. Lean in, pay attention. Always use a cutting board and let your other hand (knuckles facing knife) guide the slicing. Focus.
  7. 7.
    Storage.
    Keep your knife in a knife block (along w the conditioning steel and possible secondary knives) or nestled respectfully in a special cozy spot in a drawer, on its side. Keep the blade protected.
  8. 8.
    Complete the collection.
    Once you are lined up with your main blade, collect a few complementary others for a thorough arsenal. These include a smaller paring knife (same practices), a medium-sized serrated knife (tomatoes, citrus), and a long serrated bread knife (my hands-down favorite bread knife is Cutco), and kitchen sheers (herbs, artichokes, general snipping). A very sharp and sturdy vegetable peeler is essential too.
  9. 9.
    You will now want to spend all your time cutting things.
    So get a good stash of recipes and groceries - also have your music ready, and let people know they can find you in the kitchen.